T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Australian painted lady (Vanessa (Cynthia) kershawi)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Tribe: Nymphalini
Genus: Vanessa
Subgenus: Cynthia
Species: V. (C.) kershawi
Binomial name: Vanessa (Cynthia) kershawi
Synonyms: Cynthia kershawi, Vanessa cardui kershawi
Common name: Australian painted lady

The Australian painted lady butterfly is mostly confined to Australia, although westerly winds have dispersed it to islands east of Australia, including New Zealand where it has become common following periodic migrations across the Tasman Sea. Since the butterflies do not reproduce or over winter in New Zealand, they are considered a vagrant species.
The Australian painted lady is remarkably similar to the painted lady (Vanessa cardui). It is differentiated by its smaller size, rarely exceeding 5 cm across its wings, and the blue coloration at the centre of the four eyespots on its hindwings. Its body is dark brown, almost black, all over, except the tips of the antenna which are white. The bases of the wings are brown, which turns into a brick red coloration, broken by bands of black. The tips of the forewing are black with four white dots running from the apex of the wing, and a white bar extending from the leading edge of the forewing. The hindwings have four round eye-spots at their base, with a blue centre for at least three. The underwings are almost identical to the upperwings, except the base of the underwings is brick red rather than brown. The Australian painted lady's coloration allows it to blend in effectively with the ground. Males and females look almost identical. (Wikipedia).

The underwing. This butterfly is feeding